Catholic Nun’s rapes of 13 year old boy covered up.

Catholic Nun’s rapes of 13 year old boy covered up.

The case of William Edward Hayes is a shocking but fairly typical case of the Catholic Church clergy abusing the trust they assumed when looking after children to sexually abuse them. We have seen this pattern emerge in many settings over the last 20 years.

What is extraordinary about William’s case is that he was sexually abused by a Nun who went on to have his child. She was expelled from the church and returned to Ireland. The child of the rape was taken into another convent and spent a lifetime looking for the biological parents. William fought for acknowledgement and redress and after a long fight through lawyers for compensation he eventually succeeded. This was not however without the Catholic Church putting obstacles in his way.

William has been helped in the last decade by Noel Chardon, a founder member of MACSAS (“Minister and Clergy Sexual Abuse Survivors”), a support organisation for clergy abuse survivors. Noel is a trauma recovery counsellor based in London.

William describes the abuse as follows :

“In June 1951 when I was 10 years old, my sister and I were admitted to the John Reynolds Home at East Beach, Lytham St Anne’s in Lancashire. This home was run by the Catholic Order of Religious, The Franciscan Missionaries of St Joseph who were in fact nuns. The house itself contained about 30 children both boys and girls and contained three separate houses. The sisters lived in one of the houses, the boys in another and the girls in the other one. What I did notice was that we were then cleaned up and fed adequately whilst in this particular home where I remained until the age of 15.

The nuns could be nice at times but also very strict and we weren’t allowed to get away with anything. I had been at the home for probably a couple of years before I got a job in the laundry room at the back of the house and one of the nuns Sister Conleth (birth name Bessie Lawlor) was in charge of the laundry. I hadn’t been working in the laundry very long when I was taken to the back of the laundry room and sexually abused by her. She would push me to the floor and either lay on top of me or have me lay on top of her and showed me how to perform sexual intercourse with her. She would not undress at his particular time but would just pull her habit up and pull my trousers down and I would have sex with her. Initially I wasn’t sure what to do but she showed me how to put my penis inside her and then on a number of occasions over the next few years we would have regular sexual intercourse, by this I mean probably every day. When I said that I didn’t want to do these things she told me that I would be in trouble if I didn’t and she would tell people that I had been bad and that I would be in serious trouble. 

I honestly believed her and I knew that nobody would believe me over a nun and therefore kept having intercourse with her. The sex was Sister Conleth carried on for probably a couple of years before I was moved to my own bedroom. After that Sister Conleth would come to my room on most nights and come to bed with me. She would take all her clothes off, get into bed and have sex with me. Looking back at it now I realise this was rape when I did try to complain I was told to just get on with it and she would often make jokes and phrases such as “lets have a prop up”. Obviously looking back on this now I know that the prop up for me to put my penis inside of her and have sex with her.

Sister Conleth always threatened me with punishment should I say anything about what was happening therefore I tended to keep quiet. This changed because I noticed that my sister had become very unhappy and I later found out that she had been abused by Canon Moxham. After that we ran away on a couple of occasions but were caught and were taken back to the home. I was running away because of the abuse, at that time I obviously didn’t know about my sister but she came with me as she was also being abused. On return to the home I did mention what was happening with myself and Sister Conleth to the Mother Superior who was called Mary Osmond. I remember telling her twice but nothing was done. I was really frightened and embarrassed about talking to her but she just acted as though everything was okay. It would have been about 1956/57 when I was aged about 16 that I was called to a meeting. There was Sister Conleth, Mother Superior, a priest and I believe Canon Moxham was present. I was told that I was being sent back to Carlisle because I had got Sister Conleth pregnant. I was put on a train with no money and told to keep my mouth closed and told that if I said anything to anyone, nobody would believe me and I was also told in no uncertain terms that if I mentioned about the abuse and the relationship with Sister Conleth I would be in serious trouble.”

What William couldn’t have known is that Sister Conleth had her baby and was returned to Ireland. The baby was brought up in a Convent and now with the help of Noel Chardon and William finally breaking his silence to the Daily Express on 3rd April 2018 the daughter of the relationship as made contact with William. (see web link here) https://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/940504/child-abuse-nun-raped-me-and-had-my-baby-schoolboy-victim

William’s counsellor, Mr Chardon, has discovered not only that the church covered up the fact of the abuse in 1957 but has repeatedly ignored William’s attempts to get recognition and redress from them.

In 2001 William made contact with the Catholic Care organisation, Caritas who ignored him. Thinking he would get no help from the church he took no action until 2007 when he asked his local MP to write to Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor. O’Connor did not help but told William to write to the Bishop of Lancaster’s office. In 2008 William again tried Caritas who tell him that Bessie Lawlor passed away in 2002.

In 2010 William persisted and got a meeting with the Caritas and the head of the Franciscan Missionaries of St Joseph (who ran the children’s home where he was abused), Sister Philomena McCluskey. She told him she’d never heard of this report. William not has the feeling he is being passed around and ignored. No-one in the Church has taken ownership of his case, offered to help and support him, or investigated his case.

In November 2010 William contacts Noel Chardon through MACSAS and Noel provided support, advice and counselling.

In 2011 William, by now age 70 suffers a near fatal heart attack. In 2012 Noel asks for a donation of £1,000 to help William who is struggling financially. The request is denied and Noel is accused of “being on the political wing of MACSAS”. Between 2012 and 2015 Noel provided support and counselling to William. Throughout this period William is “befriended” by a Caritas social worker who works to persuade William that his lawyers are actually his enemy. This causes William great confusion and worry.

On 3rd April 2015 (Good Friday) Noel Chardon, after much research, writes to all 30 Catholic Bishops in England pointing out their breaches of Canon Law in failing to provide help and support to William (Cannons 678, Article 1 and 683 Articles 1 and 2). The 1956 evidence was included in the correspondence to evidence the case.

In 2016 William’s legal case was settled by the Franciscan Missionaries of St Joseph for a minimal payment.

In summary William and Noel accuse the Catholic Church of :-

  1. The abuse itself committed to William between the ages of 13 and 15 on a boy forced to live in the convent.
  2. Failing to support him after leaving the convent.
  3. Failing to try to find his child.
  4. Ignoring his case from 2001.
  5. Failing to alert the police and social services to the case in 2001. Failing to undertake any investigation in to these serious offences (failing to follow its own safeguarding guidance)
  6. Despite knowing his need for support with housing and benefits in old age, failing to help him.
  7. Actively using Jim Cullen, a Caritas social worker, to try to persuade him to drop his legal case.
  8.  Failing to follow its own Cannon law when it failed to help William.

David Greenwood

28th April 2018

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